Do not attempt to adjust your monitor, this is really a picture of an electric bike. Schwinn’s new electric bikes are probably the slickest and most smoothly integrated set of power-assisted velocipedes we’ve yet seen. Schwinn teamed up with Protanium Inc. to develop a whole series of rides in different configurations (the Streamline pictured above), all of which employ lithium polymer batteries and in-hub motors, both well concealed.
They claim their Plug’n Drive system delivers approx. 40 miles of range and charges fully in four hours. They also claim their batteries deliver full power until completely drained (rather than slowly dwindling). Total bike weight ranges from 40-45 lbs., the electric system alone weighs around ten, the battery is stashed on the cargo rack behind the seat, and electric components live inside the frame tubes. To read more about Schwinn’s 2007 electric bike line and other trends in the electric cycling, check out Forbes Bagatelle-Black’s great review of the North American Bike Show at EV World.
No word on price yet for the Schwinn’s, but they could be looking at a corner on the market. The company has offered electric bikes and scooters in the past, but the vast majority of motor-assisted bikes on the market come out looking freakish (like this electric bike from Aprilia or this electric bike from eZee). Beautiful as they may be to the more deeply appreciating ecological citizen, electric bikes won’t go big time until they can blend in the with rest of the pack.